TRENTON – The first full Senate votes of the new legislative session will be some patronage appointments for former colleagues next Monday.

The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously advanced three nominations at its meeting Thursday, including two former senators to paid positions and a former assemblywoman to an unpaid post.

Just one of the appointments involved a formal appearance before the committee: former Sen. Kip Bateman, R-Somerset, for a position on the board of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey that pays at least $77,000 a year.

He would be the fourth former lawmaker on Horizon board, including former Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, who was directly appointed to the board earlier this month. Former Sen. Joe Kyrillos, R-Monmouth, and former Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts, D-Camden, have already been serving on the board.

“I just want to make one thing clear: I’m not replacing our friend, Joe Kyrillos. Joe is still on there. Joe moved from a public position to a director position,” Bateman told the committee.

Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen, said health care is a huge driver of the state budget and the Legislature has made extensive changes to the insurer’s governance in recent years.

“Your knowledge of working here in the Legislature for many years, across party lines, will be an asset at Horizon – knowing what we think and what we’re going through here as we deal with Horizon,” Sarlo said.

Senators in both parties credited Bateman for having a bipartisan streak. Sen. Bob Smith, D-Middlesex, said Bateman was one of the best senators the state has ever had.

“Left a real legacy for the state in the area of environmental law, and I’m sure he’s going to make a great contribution on the Blue Cross Blue Shield commission,” Smith said.

The Senate is also due to vote Monday to make former Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego, D-Burlington, the Burlington County superintendent of elections. The person now holding that job, George Kotch, is paid around $95,000.

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Former Assemblywoman Linda Stender, D-Union, is set to be confirmed for the New Jersey Historic Trust – but that’s an unpaid post. She had been nominated by Gov. Phil Murphy last June but didn’t come up for a vote in the last legislative session.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

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